A retired regional U.S. Federal Reserve official hopes to become the first independent candidate to win a seat in the Kansas Legislature in more than 80 years after being denied a place on the ballot as a Democrat because of a lost filing form.


 A retired regional U.S. Federal Reserve official hopes to become the first independent candidate to win a seat in the Kansas Legislature in more than 80 years after being denied a place on the ballot as a Democrat because of a lost filing form.

Larry Meeker, from the Kansas City community of Lake Quivira, filed petitions Monday with the secretary of state's office to be listed as a candidate for the Kansas House in the 17th District in the November general election. He needed to submit signatures from about 650 registered voters in the district, and his petitions were signed by about 1,300 people.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office expects to know within a few days whether Meeker has collected enough valid signatures. But Meeker is confident he'll be on the ballot, and he said after turning in his paperwork that he quickly got over the disappointment of not being listed earlier.

Democrats contended that Kobach's office lost Meeker's filing form after it was delivered to Topeka on the June 11 filing deadline. Kobach and his staff said there was no proof that the form arrived on time after Meeker filled it out in Johnson County's elections office. A state board later sided with Kobach, a Republican.

"You move forward. You don't look back," Meeker said. "We can't lament what's happened in the past. We have to look the future."

The last independent candidate to capture a seat in the Kansas Legislature was Walter Hammel, a Clay County farmer who won a special election in 1930 for a vacant House seat. But when Hammel sought and won a full term later that year, he ran as a Democrat.

Meeker, a retired vice president for the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Mo., and former two-term mayor of Lake Quivira, was the only potential Democratic candidate in the 17th District. Freshman Rep. Brett Hildabrand, of Shawnee, faces a challenge from Jason Leib, of Shawnee, a partner in a computer services firm, in the Republican primary Aug. 7.

The final hours for candidates to file were especially hectic this year because the deadline was less than four days after three federal judges redrew the state's political boundaries to ensure equal political representation and account for population shifts. Filing forms had to be validated by Kobach's office in Topeka, and a Democratic aide delivered forms for multiple candidates from Johnson County.

"Assuming that the signatures are validated, I'm very pleased he was able to obtain enough signatures," Kobach said. "Everyone listening to the case of his missing paperwork felt for him."

Meeker now describes the loss of his first filing form as a positive development. He said he and his supporters were required to walk the district and meet voters to gather signatures to file as an independent.

"It got me to do something earlier than I probably would have done it in the campaign," he said.